Watching the good and the bad on an Uptown street corner

She sank onto the pavement, loosely holding her asthma pump. She said she knew who shot the five men Monday. Allen squatted next to her.

"Were you drinking today?"

"Yes."

"How many drinks did you have?"

"Just two glasses of wine."

"Would you like to see one of our grief counselors?"

When a young man walked by, a cigarette tucked behind his ear, and seared her with a look, she said he was one of the guys who did it.

"He runs the whole street," she said, but there was no quick way to know if that was true.

"Pastor Michael!" cried another woman. She was pushing a cart filled with Pepsi and white bread. She, too, wanted a hug.

She told Allen she'd been across the corner at the Uptown Shop & Save when the shootings happened.

"I don't feel safe to take my kid to the park," she said.

It was a common sentiment Tuesday, but there were also people like Tom Westerman, a church member who lives in a nearby SRO. He said he loves the neighborhood and has come to believe that if violence is going to get you, it can get you in any neighborhood.

After he said that, he walked away. He came back.

"They missed a couple of spots where there's still blood on the sidewalk," he said.

"We'll take care of it, buddy," Allen said.

And next Monday, the door will be open for a free dinner again, proof that the good and the bad co-exist, sometimes on the same corner.

mschmich@tribune.com

CHICAGO

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